After years of planning the NCAA Tennis Tournament is set to start on Thursday at 9 a.m. at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex with eight third-round women’s matches.
Even though the men don’t start playing its matches until Friday, the top-seeded Wake Forest men’s team is eager to start play on its home courts. The Deacons (27-2) are scheduled to play Columbia (19-4) at 4 p.m. on Friday at the Leighton Family Courts.
Rain is forecast throughout the tournament, which is scheduled to be completed with both women’s and men’s team championships on Tuesday. Therefore, there is a possibility that the indoor courts at the Wake Forest Indoor Tennis Center, with other matches being played at the indoor center at the Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center at the University of North Carolina.
All of the higher-seeded teams would play at Wake Forest and all the corresponding lower-seeded teams would play in Chapel Hill. Therefore, Wake Forest, as the top seed and host school, will play all of its matches at home. However, neither North Carolina’s men nor its women, would be allowed to play in Chapel Hill.
“We’ve practiced a little bit indoors the last two days,” Coach Tony Bresky of Wake Forest said. “It’s been so nice here. I don’t think we’ve been indoors for about a month, so we just went back in there and hit a few balls, and hit some outdoors, as well. We’ll just play wherever they tell us to play.”
Wake Forest reached the Round of 16 after defeating Navy and South Carolina last weekend, and No. 16 Columbia defeated Monmouth and Virginia, the defending national champion, on its home courts in New York.
“I thought our doubles has continued to be great,” Bresky said. “You know, Navy really started the weekend off by pushing us. They have great doubles, and I think we actually carried that over to South Carolina.”
Wake Forest defeated South Carolina 4-1, but it had to receive a second-set tiebreak win by Borna Gojo, the No. 1 singles player for the Deacons to clinch the victory.
“In singles, we were good. We were points away from really winning that match,” Bresky said. “Borna was up 5-1, and Bar (Botzer at No. 4 singles) was up 3-0, a break point to go up 4-0. I mean so we were really points away from winning that match in under two hours. Credit to South Carolina. We knew they would fight, they dug in and continued to push us. And we were happy to get through.”
Friday is just the second meeting between Wake Forest and Columbia. The Deacons defeated the Lions 4-0 in 2010.
The Lions, who won the Ivy League championship, have won the conference five straight years, and they have won the conference 13 times in the 36 years that Bid Goswami has been the head coach. Goswami is one of the winningest head coaches in NCAA tennis with a record of 491-195.
Goswami said it was hard to gauge how the Lions played because they went straight from exams to playing last Friday and Saturday.
“The guys were a little rusty,” he said. “We didn’t play as much as we did during the season. But it was good that we played at home.”
Since Goswami became the coach at Columbia in 1982 the Lions have reached the NCAA Tournament 13 times, reaching the Round of 16 in 2014 and 2015.
“They’re the No. 1 team, so you know it’s great to be here (Winston-Salem), and we’ll give it our best shot,” Goswami said. “I think that Wake Forest − Tony has put together a great team. They have been No. 1 the whole year. And they are pretty loaded, but we’ll fight. We’ll fight. We’ll try to play as well as we can.”
Bresky and Goswami know each other well, Before Bresky was named head coach at Wake Forest in 2011, he was the head coach at Cornell in the Ivy League for one season and finished with a record of 26-5 and 7-0 in the conference.
“Bid’s been around a long time,” Bresky said. “He’s been at Columbia for I think 140 years or something. Everyone in college tennis knows him. He’s a really nice guy, and did a nice job with his program.”
And Bresky was also the associate head coach at Virginia, alongside former Virginia head coach Brian Boland, from 2002-10.
“I knew Tony pretty well,” Goswami said. “When he was at Virginia we would go play NCAA Tournaments at Virginia, and one year to Cornell. He came in and won the Ivy. I always tease him that, ‘He came, he saw, he conquered.’ But he didn’t give us any more chances…”